CHEMOPREVENTION

The concept that medications could be used to prevent cancer is an attractive one, and many high-quality clinical trials support the use of such chemoprevention in defined circumstances.

Daily use of tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), typically for 5 years, has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in high-risk women by about 50%. A recent[when?] study reported that the selective estrogen receptor modulator raloxifene has similar benefits to tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer in high-risk women, with a more favorable side effect profile.[78]

Raloxifene is a SERM like tamoxifen; it has been shown (in the STAR trial) to reduce the risk of breast cancer in high-risk women equally as well as tamoxifen. In this trial, which studied almost 20,000 women, raloxifene had fewer side effects than tamoxifen, though it did permit more DCIS to form.[78]

Finasteride, a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer, though it seems to mostly prevent low-grade tumors.[79] The effect of COX-2 inhibitors such as rofecoxib and celecoxib upon the risk of colon polyps have been studied in familial adenomatous polyposis patients[80] and in the general population.[81][82] In both groups, there were significant reductions in colon polyp incidence, but this came at the price of increased cardiovascular toxicity.

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